FSU football went through quite the drama with the move that got rid of their legendary coach, but there is no ill will after the death of that man.
For nearly three and a half decades, the name Bobby Bowden was synonymous with the FSU football program as the man who – well, quite frankly, the man who saved the program and turned it from an also ran into arguably the best program in the country for a period of around a decade and a half at its highest point.
At the same point, it might be hard for some in the Seminoles family to realize that the 2019 season will be the 10th since Bowden was leading the garnet and gold – a decade long period that was brought on by quite the controversy surrounding those in charge of the school and the big money boosters wanting to move on.
Midway through the 2009 season, as the Seminoles were sitting with a 2-4 record, school president Dr. T.K. Wetherell – a man who had played for FSU football as a wide receiver when Bowden was his segment coach in the 1960s – and others began to raise their voices about needing change.
Bowden wanted to stay for the 2010 season (which would’ve been his 35th with the program and started against his alma mater Samford), but the school said that would only happen if he had no power at all. Bowden declined and a 33-21 comeback victory over West Virginia in the Gator Bowl was the final time he would lead the Noles.
Sunday, Wetherell passed away after a fight against cancer that lasted over a decade. Before his passing, Bowden told the Tallahassee Democrat that “any hard feelings I had are gone.”
Bowden said he last saw Wetherell in 2014 at the FSU Alumni Banquet, where Wetherell received the association’s coveted Bernard F. Sliger Award…Wetherell knelt down beside Bowden, who was sitting a table with his former football secretary, Sue Hall.
Bowden and Wetherell shared a laugh and talked for about 10 minutes. Those close to Wetherell said it meant a lot to him to make amends with his former coach.
For many, it takes time for those hurt feelings to go away – just like I’m sure the man who led FSU football to the 2013 national title will one day be welcomed back on campus, but because of how his bolting to the SEC went it’s going to take a while for the feelings to heal.
Wetherell, who was the first FSU graduate to run the school, was someone who used his past as the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives to push for more money and a better seat at the table for the school – and in turn, make sure the FSU football team and other athletics programs got what they needed as well.
It would have been nice for things to have ended better with Bowden – but as we all learn getting older in life, grudges are something that rarely do anything other than hurt the person that is holding it.